Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. III. Addison to Blake
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. III. The Eighteenth Century: Addison to Blake
 
Extracts from The Vanity of Human Wishes: The True Objects of Desire
By Samuel Johnson (1709–1784)
 
  WHERE then shall Hope and Fear their objects find?
Must dull suspense corrupt the stagnant mind?
Must helpless man, in ignorance sedate,
Roll darkling down the torrent of his fate?
Must no dislike, alarm, no wishes rise,        5
No cries invoke the mercies of the skies?
Inquirer, cease; petitions yet remain
Which Heaven may hear, nor deem religion vain.
Still raise for good the supplicating voice,
But leave to Heaven the measure and the choice.        10
Safe in his power whose eyes discern afar
The secret ambush of a specious prayer;
Implore his aid, in his decisions rest,
Secure whate’er he gives, he gives the best.
Yet, when the sense of sacred presence fires,        15
And strong devotion to the skies aspires,
Pour forth thy fervours for a healthful mind,
Obedient passions, and a will resigned;
For love, which scarce collective man can fill;
For patience, sovereign o’er transmuted ill;        20
For faith, that, panting for a happier seat,
Counts death kind nature’s signal of retreat:
These goods for man the laws of Heaven ordain,
These goods He grants who grants the power to gain;
With these celestial Wisdom calms the mind,        25
And makes the happiness she does not find.
 
 
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